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SECT. nature of things, enter into the kingdom of God.
In making these affertions, were the fanction of any human authority neceffary, I should think myfelf perfectly fecure under that of Bishop Butler." If Chrift," fays he," be indeed our Lord, our Saviour, "and our God; no one can fay, what may follow, not only the obstinate, but "the careless difregard to him, in those
high relations. Nay, no one can fay, "what may follow fuch difregard, even in "the way of natural confequence. For, "as the natural confequences of vice in this life are doubtlefs to be confidered, as judicial punishments inflicted by God; "fo likewife, for ought we know, the ju“dicial punishments of the future life may "be, in a like way, or a like fense, the "natural confequence of vice: of men's violating or difregarding the relations, "which God has placed them in here, "and made known to them.
Again: If mankind are corrupted and depraved in their moral character, and "fo are unfit for that state which Chrift
is gone to prepare for his difciples; and CHAP. "if the affiftance of God's Spirit be neceffary to renew their nature, in the degree requifite to their being qualified for "that state; all which is implied in the "exprefs, though figurative declaration,
Except a man be born of the Spirit, he "cannot enter into the kingdom of God: fuppofing this, is it poffible any serious
person can think it a flight matter, whe"ther or no he makes ufe of the means, exprefsly commanded by God, for obtaining this divine affiftance? Especially "fince the whole analogy of nature shews, "that we are not to expect any benefits, "without making use of the appointed " means for obtaining or enjoying them”.”
With regard to each individual who bears the name of Christian, his own confcience is the beft able to inform him, how far he has a right to conclude himfelf regenerate. If he lives in the allowed practice of any fingle vice; if he forms no purposes of amendment; if his affections are fupremely fet upon things below, not upon things above; and if he has no relish
" Butler's Anal. Part II, chap. i.
SECT. for that fpiritual communion with God, which constitutes the whole felicity of the glorified faints; fuch a man furely cannot reasonably think himself in a state of fafety. Different tempers, it is true, are endowed with different degrees of animation; but religion does not depend upon warm emotions and tranfient feelings; it confifts rather in a firm, refolute, and principled determination of the heart, and of the understanding, to ferve God, and to keep his commandments. Provided a man, upon an impartial fcrutiny, finds this to be the cafe with himself, his particular temperament is of no very great confequence. But if he be obliged to confefs, that, in religion alone, he is cold and indifferent; while the whole energy of his mind, without the least painful effort, is roused into action, when in pursuit of any favourite employment, let him carefully examine the foundation, upon which his claim to piety is built. Should a flaw be difcovered, let him not be fo far blinded by the deceitfulness of fin, as to pass it over with haste, or to view it with careleffnefs and indifference.
We must not indeed expect, that, in
the prefent life, our wills can ever be in CHAP. perfect unifon with the will of God. There
is a constant struggle, even in the most devoted hearts, between grace and nature; but no perfon has any reafon to esteem himself in a dangerous ftate, because harraffed with this internal warfare. Every fincere believer muft prepare himself to encounter his innate corruption, and to fight vigorously against that "law in his "members, which wars against the law of "his mind." The great Apostle of the Gentiles himself was not exempt from this common condition of all Christians; but was forced to exclaim, in the bitterness of his heart, "O wretched man that I am! "who fhall deliver me from the body of "this death?" Such a struggle is so far from being a mark of determined enmity with God, that Bp. Hall declares it to be one of the very effentials of regeneration.
"There are two men," fays he, "in every regenerate breaft, the old and the "new; and of thefe, as they are ever plotting against each other, we must "take the better fide, and labour that the
new man, by being more wife in God, may outstrip the old. And how shall "that be done? If we would difpoffefs "the ftrong man that keeps the house,
our Saviour bids us bring in a stronger "than he; and if we would over-reach "the fubtilty of the old man, yea the old ferpent, bring in a wifer than he, even "the Spirit of God, the God of wisdom"."
Upon the whole, we may venture to pronounce, that he, who will fubmit to a fevere felf-examination, with a fixed purpofe, to be guided by the Law of God, and not by his own inclinations; he, who defires only to know the will of his Creator, in order that he may obey it, however it may thwart his vicious propenfities; this man is not far from the kingdom of heaven.
Bp. Hall's Works, p. 469.